Pregnant women are quickly becoming a common sight to see walking into their Chiropractor's office. With up to 80% 1 of women experiencing pain during pregnancy, it is no wonder that reputable resources like the American Pregnancy Association 2 are vouching for the safety and efficacy of this treatment option.
As a Chiropractor, I quickly found that this was my favorite and most rewarding demographic to work with. (Don’t worry, guys, there is still a place for you at my clinic as well!) After 3 years of treating pregnant mommas, I decided to pursue my certification in the Webster Technique 3. Learning this technique and then applying it in practice brought more client satisfaction, more word of mouth referrals, and better outcomes than I could have ever hoped for! Chiropractic is founded in addressing and restoring the body's natural function without the use of invasive or disruptive treatments. During pregnancy, less is more when it comes to treatment, especially medications. The unfortunate truth is that there are so many medications or other treatments with no long term studies on how they may impact the growing baby. (Anyone remember thalidomide 4?) Most recently acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, commonly used for headaches during pregnancy, has been under some serious scrutiny5.
When consulting with a potential client about the risks versus benefits of the Webster Technique, most agree that it is worthwhile to try before reaching into that medicine cabinet for a pain killer or anti-inflammatory.
Potential benefits of chiropractic care for the mother includes:
Preparing the pelvis for pregnancy and birth by creating a state of balance in the pelvic bony structures, muscles, and ligaments
Removing torsion of the ligaments that support the uterus thus potentially reducing aberrant tension to the woman’s uterus.
Reduces interference to the mother’s nervous system which controls and coordinates all of her systems and functions
By improving maternal function, the need for intervention may be decreased
Potential benefits of chiropractic care for the infant includes:
Reducing interference to the mother’s nervous system to allow for better development in utero
Pelvic balance of the mother allows the baby greater room to develop and to be in the best possible position for birth
With proper fetal positioning, there is a decrease in dystocia and the resulting birth trauma caused by intervention
Some of those words may not make sense to you, especially if you’ve never been pregnant, but I want to highlight one of them. What does dystocia mean? Dystocia is defined as abnormal labor or childbirth. Let me just preface this by saying that I dislike very much the word “abnormal” when it is applied to health…so ambiguous, what does that even mean? But I digress…
There are three primary reasons or causes of dystocia in labor 6,7:
Power (uterine contractility)
Passage (size, shape, and adequacy of the pelvis)
Passenger (infant size, fetal presentation [occiput anterior, posterior, or transverse])
How can chiropractic help?
The beautiful thing is that a trained perinatal chiropractor has the ability to optimize the mother’s ability to give birth through addressing the 3 above causes of dystocia:
Power: The power source to the uterus is the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments improve impaired nerve supply.
Passage: Chiropractic adjustments and the Webster Technique address the movement of the woman’s pelvis and sacrum, bones that make up the birth passage.
Passenger: Positioning of the baby is affected by positioning of the pelvic bones, ligaments, and muscles. The Webster Technique addresses these variables to optimize the baby’s position.
What has made me so passionate about increasing my knowledge base is the ability to advocate for my clients. There is a major disconnect in healthcare application as it relates to pregnancy, labor, and delivery in the United States. According to the CDC 8, as of 2014, 32.2% of all deliveries are by Cesarean section. Like, whoa…what?! One in three women deliver by c-section? This is alarming. Of course c-sections can be life saving for both mother and baby when used appropriately. Also as an aside, for a small percentage of women, they are elective. However, for the most part this sharply increased statistic may have other causes which is a discussion for another post.
Empowerment and Education
One of my favorite aspects of working with women during this time in their life is to be a sounding board, to be supportive no matter what your decision, and also to help make decisions by gathering as much information as possible. Whenever dealing with your health, just remember that education is empowerment. Do your research, ask questions to your healthcare providers, and make your decisions based upon what is right for you and your family! If you want to learn more, please find the nearest ICPA member and Webster Certified provider here. For Grand Rapids mommas, you can schedule a consultation via email! Also, for something totally fun to do during the last months of your pregnancy, check this link out.
On of my favorite mommas, Emily Lobb with her 4 beautiful daughters: Grace, Lola, Ellie, and Amelia. I like to call her a “Labor and Delivery Champion”! (Emily is expecting baby #5 in August 2016!)
Wishing you health and empowerment,
Chiropractic Physician – Flow Chiropractic
https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/thalidomide-tragedy-lessons-drug-safety and regulation
Abnormal Labor: www.emedicinemedscape.com/article/273053-overview
Cunningham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al. Abnormal labor. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. Appleton & Lange; 2007. 415-434.